Happy Valentine's Day! If you haven't settled down with a nice Ivy League man yet, you're going to die alone.
Such is the advice of Susan Patton, the Princeton alumna and mother made famous last year when she doled out some motherly wisdom to the university's misguided young ladies. Now she's back with a book and an article in the Wall Street Journal. You were the cause of a million phone calls from concerned grandmothers last year, Ms. Patton. Can't you give us all a break?
Last March, in a letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonian (my college paper), the mother of two expressed concern for those looking to lean in. Don't put too much focus on your future career, she told us, when you could be directing some energy toward landing one of those highly coveted Princeton guys before graduation. After all, once a woman graduates, the clock starts ticking and she'll be undesirable before she knows it.
Now Patton has a book coming out giving us more arguments for why we should all settle right out of college. And with that book comes her Wall Street Journal piece: half advice column, half screed about kids these days, with a jab at feminism thrown in for good measure. Right out of the gate, Patton is already telling female college grads of all stripes that it's probably too late and they're likely to die alone and miserable:
Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry. But chances are that you haven't been investing nearly as much energy in planning for your personal happiness as you are planning for your next promotion at work. What are you waiting for? You're not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you'd be interested in marrying most definitely is.
Men of the same academic caliber as her audience, we're told, "are often interested in younger, less challenging women." Yes, you heard it here first: potential soulmates aren't actually interested in you as a person. They only want the sex. Women, on the other hand, need a match with their intellectual equal. Therefore, women need to find their future husbands in college while everyone is still single. Q.E.D.
Patton doesn't tell us what lesbians should do about their marriage prospects. But she does offer other pearls of wisdom:
The grandmotherly message of yesterday is still true today: Men won't buy the cow if the milk is free.
You may not be ready for marriage in your early 20s (or maybe you are), but keep in touch with the men that you meet in college, especially the super smart ones. They'll probably do very well for themselves, and their desirability will only increase after graduation.
And if you fail to identify "the one" while you're in college, don't worry—there's always graduate school.
Patton's words do touch on an important conversation about work-life balance and the role of marriage. But telling smart girls to settle down now before they're thirty and icky is not the most productive way to contribute to the discussion.
Please, Ms. Patton, stop giving me advice. I can't handle any more phone calls from concerned relatives.
[Image via AP]